I was wrong about gay marriage

Confession is good for the soul, they say. And, yes, it would be nice if George W. Bush gave it a try once in awhile. On the other hand, I suppose, listening to him blather on incoherently for days on end — as would be required for him to confess to all of his political and constitutional sins — could prove a bit dreary.

So back to the real world, where I think it’s time for me to confess to the sin of timidity on the subject of gay marriage. Here’s what I wrote a year-and-a-half ago in response to the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that the state constitution required a “marriage equivalent,” such as civil unions, for gays and lesbians, but did not require the use of the word marriage:

Maybe the word marriage can wait

Let me admit up front that as hard as I may try to be empathetic, as a heterosexual I can probably never fully fulfill Atticus Finch’s condition that “you never really knew a man until you stood in his shoes and walked around in them” on this issue.  But I still have to say that from the standpoint of political reality, the actual state of the nation as opposed to the one we would like, there is much to commend the compromise reached today by the New Jersey Supreme Court on gay marriage.

My concern, obviously, was that by demanding gay marriage, in the face of widespread popular opposition, the gay community was empowering the Religious Right. And this remains a valid concern today. In many states, opposition to “gay marriage” has led to the adoption of constitutional amendments that not only bar gay marriage, but also civil unions.

This is particularly unfortunate when we remember that the concept of civil unions, giving gay and lesbian couples the legal protections of marriage without the name, has much greater public support than does full gay marriage. Civil union initiatives might well pass in many states if presented on their own merits. Instead, the Religious Right has been able to foreclose this possibility by wrapping the entire issue together under the heading of marriage.

My thought, therefore, was why not start out with civil unions, understanding that over time the transformation to full gay marriage would be inevitable.

But it turns out I was wrong. The popular response to the recent California Supreme Court decision mandating gay marriage proves it.

California voters favor same-sex marriage!   

Wow. I was startled, this morning, to see the new Field Poll* numbers on California’s response to its Supreme Court’s marriage decision:

The poll found 51 percent of registered voters favor the idea of allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed, while 42 percent disapprove.

Never before have I seen such a polling result outside Massachusetts–and in Massachusetts, we got majority approval only *after* same-sex couples had been marrying for awhile, and after the shock of the court decision had worn off.

Now, to be honest, I really wouldn’t be surprised to see a constitutional ban on gay marriage adopted by referendum in California, notwithstanding this polling. Further, whatever California does, gay marriage is not going to be politically possible in the majority of states for some time to come.

Still, it’s clear that public attitudes are changing. And this is only happening because gay rights advocates refused to be satisfied with second class citizenship.

So more power to them.

Update: And the news keeps coming:

Gay rights advocates score wins in NY, Calif.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gay rights advocates had reason to celebrate on both coasts Thursday, with New York set to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and California preparing to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on June 17.

Hours after California issued a directive Wednesday authorizing that date, word came that New York Gov. David Paterson instructed state agencies — including those governing insurance and health care — to immediately change policies and regulations to recognize gay marriages.


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4 Responses to “I was wrong about gay marriage”

  1. Chuck Says:

    I might be wrong, as I often am, that in the non-human animal world Homosexuality occurs in approximitely 10% of the population. If you dig further It seems many species of fish will change gender when the need arises.

    Of course I could be wrong, I was wrong once before. I thought I had made a mistake, but I was wrong about that. (Fiction helped him a lot in this circumstance.) Fortunately that only happened once. (More fiction.)

    I wish that cat would stop adding to my messages.

    Chuck (& Scout)

  2. VettaKing Says:

    When it comes to gay marriage I always say, sure why not. I’m a heterosexual male, how in the world is 2 gay people making it legal going to affect me. No one will even notice a difference except the gay couple who can now marry if they wish to. There is no logical argument against gay marriage. The only people who make a big deal about it are the religious folks, and unfortunately for them their is that pesky constition getting in their way. Of course that has never stopped them from trying before, the law be damned I guess.

  3. alwayshope Says:

    When Ellen had John McCain on her show, he said that he has supported civil unions but not marriage. Ellen said, that’s a little like saying , “you can sit over there but you can’t sit here.”
    That is the point.
    Trying to change the Constitution in order to discriminate against others just isn’t American and it isn’t right. I don’t even understand their argument that it threatens marriage. How?
    And how is it that they fear gay marriage more than war, more than poverty and disease, more than corruption and global warming and deceit?
    Our Democracy with it’s theme of equality under the law is basic to all of our freedoms. To change the Constitution just to exclude a part of the population from enjoying the freedoms all others have is obscene. What will they want next? Only Christians can vote? In Indiana the last time they tried to get a ban on gay marriage, they went too far. They wanted a ban also on civil unions and on adoption for gay couples. It didn’t pass. They will try again.
    It’s just so stupid. All the really vital issues we have to deal with and these nutjobs are spending time and money crusading against people in love.
    Go figure.

    Oh, and Hey Scout,
    Don’t tell Chuck, but I think you spell a little better than he does.

  4. Larkrise Says:

    People who oppose gay marriage need to get a life. They evidently dont have enough to do. How many full-throttle, fully blessed, big deal, costly $30,000+with all the trimmings marriages will end in divorce? We are in a recession. 47 million have no healthcare. We are fighting 2 wars with daily casualties. People are losing their homes and their jobs. Where is the threat in gay marriage among all of this genuine turmoil? If two people want to be married, let them. Some will be successful. Some will not. If the fundamentalist, evangelical Christians and the Catholics dont want to do the ceremony, then don’t do it. Millions of people have civil ceremonies. To me, it’s a non-issue. Christian denominations cannot even agree on how to be baptized or how to say the Lord’s Prayer. Let them buzz like bees among themselves; but remember that they can pitch a di-do over grape juice versus wine. They should not be interfering in other people’s private lives, when they cannot find consensus amongst their own groups.

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